The algorithms that dictate your small business website’s rankings are almost constantly in flux.
While the changes are usually too small to notice, it is not uncommon for companies like Google to be continually adjusting which factors are most important, as well as finding new ways to punish websites that attempt to game the system.
It is impossible to know exactly what changes are going to be made to search algorithms in the new year, but based on past changes, there are projections that can be made about what will continue to be more important in 2019, and what is likely to get you in trouble.
Here are some of those forecasts and how you can keep your small business SEO updated:
1. Social signals will be more important than ever.
Google has started to downplay the necessity of a small business using Google+ and has started looking at building partnerships with other social media, specifically Facebook.
This is great for small businesses that already have a Facebook page, but can be concerning for those that do not yet have a Facebook or a robust following on this social media.
Google has started looking at how many followers/likes a page has and the level of engagement their posts or Tweets garner from those followers.
It may even start indexing Tweets and posts in order to help determine a brand’s relevancy to search terms.
2. Video content will be valued as highly as written content.
In the past, written content, with its keywords, was more important than any other type of content on your page.
In 2019, video content is going to be just as important as written content.
Because Google and its sister search engines have started to realize how important videos are to consumers.
Today’s consumer is much more likely to watch a two minute video than they are to ready a page full of text.
It’s a much more efficient and effective way of communicating information, which means that pages with videos are better for searchers.
Including relevant videos on your page is one of the best ways to communicate information you need to communicate and will only help your page ranking in 2019.
3. Long tail keywords will start to rise.
Digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are changing the keyword landscape.
Twenty years ago, students were being taught how to come up with the shortest and most concise keywords in order to find the information they wanted from Google.
Today, people are asking their digital assistants full, spoken questions.
This means that more and more, search engines are being asked to generate results for long tail keywords. People are not just searching for “shoes.”
They are searching for, “Where can I buy the best pair of skateboarding shoes?”
Queries like these are becoming more and more popular, making it more and more important, especially for those looking to attract mobile traffic, to use long tail keywords in small business search engine optimization.
4. Optimization for mobile devices will overtake optimization for desktops.
When you have a question you want answered, do you reach first for your smartphone or for your desktop or laptop?
For most people, it is much easier and faster to get the information they need by running a mobile search.
This doesn’t mean that people will stop using desktop computers altogether, simply that mobile search will continue to be more popular and therefore more important when it comes to small business SEO.
Especially if you are trying to attract consumers in your local area to your brick and mortar local business, having effective local SEO for mobile will be far more important than having generalized SEO.
5. Local search will be even more localized.
Imagine being able to find not just all of the restaurants in your city, but all of the restaurants on the same street as your apartment.
This is the direction Google is moving—making local search even more location-specific in order to bring its searchers even better results. If someone searches for a coffee shop, they don’t want a list of all of the coffee shops in the city, including the ones that are a twenty-minute drive away.
Instead, they want the closest coffee shop to where they are right now.
This trend will have rippling effects across all local search results, making it more important to include your exact location, not just your city name, in your local search engine optimization.
6. Value will be more important than keywords.
While keywords will always be important—they are how Google determines which websites are relevant and which websites are not relevant—Google has been and will continue to focus more and more attention on how valuable a website is to their searchers.
They do this by not just looking at the keyword frequency per page, but by actually looking at the content itself. Is it fresh?
Is it relevant?
Is it written well?
Focusing too much on the specifics of SEO (how many times a keyword is used, whether or not it is an exact match for the keyword, even if that keyword is awkwardly phrased and cannot be integrated cleanly into content, etc.) and too little on whether or not the content is serving the reader, will hurt your rankings.
What can you do to stay on top of small business SEO in the coming year?
The best thing you can do is stick the basics of SEO—writing great content that meets the needs of your readers. Stay away from trends and “fast fixes,” and you should be fine!